Joseph Bonomi the Elder
Born as Giuseppe Bonomi in Rome, he made his early reputation there, then moved to London in 1767 where he was employed as a draughtsman from 1768 until 1781 in the practice of Robert and James Adam before setting up his own business. Excepting one year spent with his friend Angelica Kauffman in Italy in 1783/4, he remained for the rest of his life in London.
In 1789, he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and from that time constantly exhibited architectural drawings. Joshua Reynolds, president of the Academy, had wished Bonomi to become a full Academician, regarding him as a fitting occupant of the then vacant chair of perspective. But the majority of the Academicians were opposed to this suggestion, and Bonomi became an associate only, and that merely through the president's deciding vote. This precipitated Reynolds' retirement from the presidency.
Notable works include:
- Parts of Towneley Hall near Burnley in Lancashire
- Barrells Hall, near Ullenhall, Henley in Arden Warwickshire, home of Lady Luxborough and the Newton family of Glencripesdale Estate, Argyll
- Packington Hall, Great Packington, Warwickshire
- St James' Church, Great Packington, Warwickshire
- A mausoleum at Blickling Park, Norfolk
- Piercefield House in Monmouthshire
- Remodelling of Stanstead Park, Sussex (with James Wyatt)
- Alterations to Hatchlands Park, near Guildford, Surrey
- Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, St James's, London (1789-1790)
- Laverstoke House, Laverstoke, Hampshire (1798)
- Sections of Lambton Castle, near Washington, County Durham
- Longford Hall in Shropshire
In 1775 he married Rosa Florini, Angelica Kauffman's cousin. He was the father of Ignatius Bonomi (1787-1870), also an architect, and of Joseph Bonomi the Younger (1796-1878), who became an eminent sculptor, artist and Egyptologist.
Bonomi is briefly mentioned in Sense and Sensibility. In the novel, Robert Ferrars says to Elinor (perhaps untruthfully) that his friend Lord Courtland had shown him three house designs by Bonomi and asked him to choose between them, but that Robert had burned them and advised Courtland to build a cottage instead.
- Bryan, Michael (1886). Robert Edmund Graves, ed. Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, Biographical and Critical (Volume I: A-K). York St. #4, Covent Garden, London; Original from Fogg Library, Digitized May 18, 2007: George Bell and Sons. p. 155.